While Paper Heart was far from a big film (it opened in fewer than a hundred theaters), the amount of talent that was included in its production was quite staggering. Anyone who has followed the Judd Apatow films will no doubt recognize the lead in the film, Charlyne Yi, as one of the stoner friends from Knocked Up. And there are quite a bit of Apatow alumni in this one as here, although the majority are quick cameos and nothing more. Still, the film earned some praise at Sundance and with Michael Cera front and center on the cover, it’s likely that it’ll at least gain a wider audience on DVD and Blu-ray, although those going in expecting the usual types of films he is associated with may be a bit put off.
Charlyne Yi does not believe in love. Or so she says. Well, at the very least, she doesn’t believe in fairy-tale love or the Hollywood mythology of love, and her own experiences have turned her into yet another modern-day skeptic. Follow Charlyne across America as she and her good friend (and director) Nicholas Jasenovec search for answers and advice about love, by talking with friends and strangers, scientists, bikers, romance novelists, and children. They each offer diverse views on modern romance, as well as various answers to the age-old question: does true love really exist? Charlyne’s pursuit to discover the nature of love takes on a fresh new urgency when she meets a boy after her own heart: Michael Cera. As their relationship develops on camera, her pursuit risks losing the person she finds closest to her heart. Combining elements of documentary and traditional storytelling, reality and fantasy, Paper Heart brings a fresh perspective to the modern romance and redefines the classic love story.
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to this movie. The cover states that is a “documentary”, but scratches that word out and writes “story” above it. Technically that is exactly what this is, as the films half fiction and half non-fiction. The Cera/Yi bits are all staged and made up, but the interviews with married (and non-married) couples are all real and are really what help make the film so enjoyable. It’s a quirky mix and almost deceiving in its setup, but in the end I realized I’d had a smile on my face for almost the entire length of the film, so obviously it did something right.
Truth be told there isn’t much to this movie. Yi goes around the US interviewing people (and briefly to Paris…which occupies a scant five minutes, if that, of the movie) about their relationships. It starts out rather depressingly with an interview with a divorced man, but the remainder of the film is all one-on-ones with married couples or individuals who have been together for years. It’s a very interesting film as it offers up a wide array of ideas on what exactly “love” is. It’s all kind of obvious resolutions, however; nothing really feels like an atom bomb being dropped on you, but it’s just a nice, short and entertaining documentary/film.
And…really, that’s all there is to say about this one. It’s a short film (eighty-eight minutes) and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Yi is hilarious to watch on screen as she frequently laughs in a way that’s both infections and adorable and pretty much everyone that pops up on screen is fun to watch. The segment with Yi on the playground with the kids is hilarious to watch as well and the little paper cut out vignettes are entertaining as well. In all it’s a very sweet and simple film; it will unlikely bowl you over with ideas its presents, but it’s Recommended all the same.
Anchor Bay packs Paper Heart into a standard Eco Amaray DVD case with a slipcover on the outside with slick printed text and ink on Cera and Yi on the cover. Other than that it’s a pretty standard cover and one that will likely make you question why it was even included (help the environment by using Eco cases but then kill some more trees with superfluous paper…confusing!). The disc itself is a simple affair with an easy to navigate menu and a solid video and audio transfer. It’s all on-location video so it’s pretty sketchy at times in terms of clarity and grain, but overall it’s a solid mixture nonetheless. The DD5.1 mix is focused in the front channels with a few random bits making their way into the surrounds.
Extras are varied and plentiful and actually end up running longer than the film itself. Included:
Paper Heart Uncut (7:28)
The Making Of (10:46)
Live Musical Performances by Charlyne Yi (6:31)
“Heaven” Music Video by Charlyne Yi & Michael Cera (1:43)
Love Interviews with the Comedians (26:09)
Deleted Scenes (31:23)
Theatrical Trailer (2:03)
Most of the material is just stuff that was shot and never included, which is fine—a lot of this wouldn’t work in the final product anyway. The “Love Interviews” are kind of annoying as each one is prefaced by an intro with Yi and actor Jake Johnson…which ends up being the same intro repeated over and over again for most of them. Occasionally the dialogue’s different, but it rarely is. In any case overall selection is pretty solid and if you enjoyed the movie you’ll likely enjoy where most of these extras as well.
Overall a Recommended release. I’m not sure if you’ll watch it over and over again, but it’s a sweet little film nonetheless.
Paper Heart is now available on DVD.